The Alps: Youngest and Highest Mountain System in Europe

Powerful Essays
Topics: Plate tectonics
The Alps are the youngest and highest mountain system in Europe. They stretch across the western and southern part of the continent in a broad arc. The mountain range startsnear the Mediterranean Seaon the border between France and Italy. Then it curves north- and eastward through northern Italy, Switzerland Liechtenstein, southern Germany, Austria and Slovenia.

The Alps are about 1,000 km long, the broadest section over 260 km wide. The highest peak, Mont Blanc, situated on the border between France, Italy and Switzerland, rises 4807 meters above sea level . Other famous peaks are the Monte Rosa, the Matterhorn, the Großglockner and the Zugspitze.

How the Alps were formed

Millions of years ago the area of today’s Alps was covered by a large sea that separated Europe and Africa. The southern land mass started moving northwards. This movement folded rock layers at the bottom of the sea. Heat and pressure transformed the rock and pushed the material upwards . Today these regions are the highest parts of the Alps. Most of the newly formed rock is granite and gneiss, but many ranges consist of limestone which also formed on the seabed.

During the Ice Age, which started about a million years ago, the Alps were covered with a thick blanket of snow. Glaciers moved down valleys and made them wider and deeper. As they moved they took rock and other material with them, creating moraines. When glaciers started to melt water filled up behind these natural dams and created the alpine lakes we know today.47

The largest of these glaciers is the Aletsch in Switzerland which reaches a length of about 25 km. The longest glacier of the eastern Alps is the 8 km long Pasterze, at the foot of the Großglockner.

The ice and snow of the alpine regions helped create the large rivers of today : the Rhine, Rhone, Danube and the Po.

Geology of alps…and how they were formed?? The Alps were formed over hundreds of millions of years as the African and

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